TO or FOR? Prepositions in English


Hi again. Welcome back to I'm Adam, and today's lesson is about prepositions;

everybody's favourite little words that get in the middle of everything and cause you

lots of troubles, and headaches, and confusion. Especially if you're writing, this is the

worst part, but even if you're not; always causes problems.

Today's prepositions that we're going to look at: "to" and "for". Now, there isn't really

a set rule for these prepositions; they can be used in many different ways. What I'm going

to try to show you today is when to use "to" instead of "for", when to use "for" instead

of "to". Now, to do that, we first have to look at why or situations in which we use

these prepositions. So let's start. If you want to express a reason,

- okay? -, then you're going to use "to" or "for".

"I went to the store", why? "To buy milk." "I went to the store", why? "For milk."

What's the difference between these two? Should be very clear I think. Here I have a verb,

here I'm only talking about the noun so we use "to". Now, technically, this is not a

preposition. Okay? This is an infinitive verb marker, but it looks like a preposition so

we'll treat it as one for now. Verb, noun, that's the difference when you're talking

about reason. Now, before we go to the next one, I want

you to look at this: "I went to the store", whenever you have sort

of a movement, - sorry -, and you have a destination... So by movement I mean: "go", "walk", "drive",

"take the bus", for example. Anything that involves you moving or going somewhere and

then you're talking about the destination, - means the place that you are going to -, it's

always going to be "to". And this is very much a preposition showing direction. Okay?

Now, there are of course exceptions. There are situations where you can use "for". "Head

for the hills", "Make for the lobby", okay? But very, very specific situations, very specific

verbs and you're not going to use them that often because they're not as common. Easier

to just use "go", okay? Next: if you want to point out a recipient.

What is a recipient? A person who receives something. Okay?

"Give this to her.", "This is for her." Now you're thinking: "Well, her, her, what's

the difference? They look exactly the same." So here is why I wrote: "verb". In this situation,

you're not worried about the preposition, you're worried about the verb. In this case:

"give", in this case: "is". Okay? When you... Again, when you have motion... And here, "her"

or the person is like a destination; it's not a place, but it's the recipient. Recipient

is similar to a destination except you have place and person. Okay? If you have motion

and recipient, use "to". When you have situation, then you're going to use "for". Okay? So it

all depends on the verb, not the preposition. Now, another example:

"Can you send this fax to her?" "Send" means motion, you're going to be doing something,

you're going to be moving something. "I made this cake for her."

"Made" -- you're not moving anything, nothing's changing hands. Right? You made it, this is

the situation and it's for her. Eventually she will be the recipient. "I made this for

her. Can you give it to her?" Right? So I'm using both: one motion "to", situation "for".

Here's another one: intention. What do you want the person to do? So:

"Ask John", or: "Could you please ask John to send me the file?", "Ask John for the file."

Again, we have two verbs, so the infinitive and we have "for" a noun. Now, the meaning

here is pretty much the same. It's all about the expectation. What do you expect? When

you say: "to send", you're expecting an action, you're concerned about this. You want John

to do this. If you're using "for", you care more about the file. You don't care how John

gets it; if he like picks it up and walks it over, great. You care about the file. Here,

you care about the action. Care about the action, here you care about the thing. Now,

in this case, the verb is not too important; it's the meaning, the intention. But, I'm

going to look at a few more examples where the verb makes all the difference.

Okay, so here are a few more examples. And remember what I said about the verbs: different

verbs will use "to" and "for" differently. Right? "Invite".

"Invite someone to a party." But: "Invite someone for dinner."

You could invite them to dinner, but it's a little bit different meaning. If you invite

someone to dinner, means the event of the dinner. So this is about the event. Okay?

The social event like a party, a wedding, a dinner where many people come and sit together.

"Invite someone for dinner." Means invite them to eat. Okay? Just to come and have food.

If you invite someone to dinner, you're inviting them to the dinner party. It's a little bit

different. Here you're inviting for a thing, here you're inviting for an event.

Now, I put this in a question form and you'll understand why in a second.

"What did you do to him?", "What did you do for him?" The first one: "What did you do

to him?" means you directed some sort of action at him. You... "I yelled at him." Okay? "What

did I do for him?" I did something on his behalf, instead of him. Okay? "I took the

test for him." Now, so we'll... We'll call this a directed action. And we'll say on behalf,

means in his place. Now, you notice the answers? Did you notice the answers? "What did you

do to him?" -"I yelled at him." I'm not using "to" or "for" in the answer. I'm showing "at"

him means in that direction, the yelling. But: "What did you do for him?" -"I took his

test for him." Okay? So there I could use "for him" in the answer, "to" I can't use

in the answer, only in the question with "do" - or sorry -, with "do". Okay?

Now, we can also use "to" and "for" as a complement mean-... A complement is a phrase that completes

the meaning of something before. So I want to say:

"To make a...", "Use spiced Clamato juice." For what? "To make a perfect Caesar." A Caesar

is a drink, it's an alcoholic drink; vodka, Clamato juice, tabasco, a little spices, it's

very delicious. Very Canadian drink. "For a perfect Caesar, used spiced Clamato." Again,

I have the infinitive verb, I have the "for" thing, noun/verb, that's the only difference

when we're talking about complement. Okay, and finally let's look at: "used to",

so: "be used to", "be used for". Very different meanings and uses here. "Be used to", for

example: "I am used to the weather in Canada."

So for example: many people come to Canada in the winter, they're like: "Oh my God, it's

so cold here." They're shocked. But me, I'm used to it, I'm comfortable with it, I'm familiar

with it. I can also be... I can also use: "Be used to" to show purpose. So: "This marker

is used to write things with." But with "for", I can only use it for a use or a purpose.

"This marker is used for writing. I can only talk about the purpose, the... What... How

this tool is being used. What is the use of it? Okay? So that's the difference between:

"be used to" and "be used for". Now, I know it's still a little bit confusing,

but if you go to, there's a quiz there that you can practice "to" and

"for" and of course, check me out on YouTube, subscribe to my channel.

And I'll see you again real soon. Bye.